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Jeff Gordon captures Sylvania 300 pole at NHMS

Posted by Michael Vega, Globe Staff  September 21, 2012 05:37 PM

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LOUDON, N.H. -- Jeff Gordon, who fought his way to earn the last wild-card berth in the 12-man Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, captured the pole position for Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Gordon, who finished 35th after crashing on Lap 189 in last weekend's Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway, arrived 12th in the points but earned the right to start at the front of the 43-car field by touring the 1.058-mile oval in his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet in 28.232 seconds (134.911 miles per hour).

It bettered Kyle Busch's qualifying time of 28.265, which knocked Busch's No. 18 M&M's Toyota off the top of the speed charts.

"They don't pay any points for qualifying,'' said Gordon, who was 47 points astern of Chase leader Brad Keselowski with nine races to go. "But if I'm sitting here as the winner come Sunday, then we might be saying something different. At this point, we've got a lot of work to do and it's not going to happen all in one race. It's going to happen in nine races and we're certainly not going to quit.

"We're going to fight, we're going to go out and be aggressive and we're going to go out and try to win races.''

Tony Stewart, the three-time and reigning Sprint Cup champion, qualified third fastest (28.304) while Brian Vickers was fourth fastest (28.322).

Denny Hamlin, who tweeted after finishing 16th in last weekend's Chase race in Chicago, "This is Week 1 of 10. We will win next week," was fastest during practice but wound up qualifying 32d after his crew made a miscalculation on his qualifying tire pressures.

"I knew something was wrong,'' Hamlin said. "It looked like we just ended up having race pressures in. We didn’t put our qualifying pressures in. That was a tough one. I knew something was really, really wrong, because the car was just bottomed out real bad. Simple mistake. We’ll rebound from it. We’re quick enough."

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